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Getting Started

First-time homebuyers are usually very eager to start looking for a "dream home" as soon as possible. But before you start hitting the websites, newspapers, home-buying books and streets, you should take a few introductory steps. These activities will help increase the chances that you'll be able to buy your dream home, once you have discovered it. 


Locate a Realtor you can Trust

Here on this site, you have already found a REALTOR® that is dedicated to see that you get the best house for you. A reliable agent is one of your best resources when home shopping.


 Evaluate your Credit Report

One of the earliest steps you need top take is to check your credit report. Inaccurate or unknown information could cause problems when you are set to make the purchase. It is suggested that you apply for pre-approval as early as you can. Your mortgage lender will obtain a copy of your credit report as a step in the pre-approval process. If you discover any errors on the report, contact the credit bureau issuing the report as soon as possible to request that the errors be corrected. You will want to provide any details that can explain items contained on the report. Keep dated copies of all correspondence between yourself, the credit bureau, and any creditors.


Determine a Realistic Price Range

Working closely with your mortgage lender, they will give you a maximum figure that you qualify for. As a general rule, you may be able to afford a house with a price of up to two and a half times your annual gross household income. If you discover that your loan amount is less than you had desired, a few tasks can help increase your borrowing amount:

  • Reduce long-term debts. You may want to wait before purchasing a new car. You may also consider making larger credit card payments to eliminate them before you begin the loan process.
  • Increase your income. You may want to wait to pursue your home purchase until after you receive that raise. You may also consider opportunities for additional income.
  • Consider all of the financing options. There are numerous loan programs available today. Even those who are self-employed, or have non-consistent salary history, or have little means for a down payment are not doomed for rejection of approval. Your mortgage lender can shop around to access a load program that can meet your specific needs.


Select an Area or Neighborhood

With a good idea of the price range you can afford, we can work together to choose a neighborhood based on recent home prices in different areas. If schools are a consideration we can customize a search to only include homes in certain school districts or schools.


Choose the Mortgage that will best Suit your Needs

Answering the following questions a reputable mortgage lender can advise you on what type of mortgage will work best for you:

  • How much can I afford? Let us or your mortgage lender calculate your maximum home price.
  • What kinds of loans can I get? Conventional, FHA, VA, and Jumbo are just a few available. We'll show you the exact loan products and rates for which you may qualify.
  • How low can my payment be? We'll find you the loan with the lowest payments.
  • How low of a rate can I get? We'll find you the loan with the lowest interest rate.


Choose a Lender

I can assist you in locating a local, reputable lender that can provide you with the fast, reliable service and at the best possible pricing. The following considerations can help you evaluate possible lenders:

  • In house underwriting. To minimize problems during the transaction it is critical to work with a lender that underwrites and funds the loans in-house. We only refer you to the reputable and qualified companies.
  • Speed of processing. What is the average turn-around time for the lender to process loans? Does a committee need to approve the loan, or is one person given approval authority?
  • Prepayment. Is there a prepayment penalty charged if the loan is paid off before maturity? Is the lender's attractive low rate accompanied by a prepayment penalty? If so, how much is the fee, and what is the expiration?


Get Pre-Approval

Once a lender and type of mortgage have been selected, it's time to apply for a pre-approved home loan. The cost involved in being pre-approved could be as little as the lender's cost to acquire your credit report--but it supplies you with comfort, assurance and negotiating power. Pre-approval lets sellers know that you are serious about buying, with the necessary means to purchase their property. Because of your pre-approval status, you will have more negotiating power with the seller than other interested buyers who don't.


Collect the Necessary Documents

You will need to have the following documents to proceed with applying for the home loan:

  • Tax Returns, W-2s and other income history for the last two years.
  • Divorce decree or other proof of alimony or child support which document income received or payments required.
  • Evidence of your mortgage or rental payments, such as cancelled checks.
  • Two most recent pay stubs or other verification of employment and income.
  • Monthly statements for assets such as savings accounts, IRAs and CDs.
  • Monthly statements for liabilities, including charge cards, car loans, home loans, and other loans, including account numbers, addresses and balances. 
  • Bank account statements for the last two months.
  • If you are self employed: Two years' business tax returns, prior year's financial statements, and year-to-date profit and loss. Financial statements may require a CPA's certification.


Go Shopping

Once these steps have been completed, you are ready for house shopping. Happy house hunting!



Home Evaluation Tips 


Once you have pre-qualified for a loan, you can request a pre-approval letter. You may want to supply a "wish list" to help manage your search with an evaluation checklist. One thing to keep in mind is that no other factor will affect the value of your home more than location. Buyers are usually willing to sacrifice a feature or two in order to live in a certain area or neighborhood. Just remember--you can always add on a deck, pool or room to your home. You cannot, however, take the perfect home with everything you could want and move it to a better neighborhood. 

This is now the fun part... the search for the right home. You will find the impressions of neighborhood properties by your REALTOR® to be very valuable. These tips can help your search remain focused, and end up in a home that you will absolutely love. 


View Each House with a Critical Eye

Perform a complete walk-through of every home that interests you. Look at and check everything...

  • Open closets, cabinets and appliances.
  • Flush the toilets, turn on the faucets.
  • Try the wall switches and dimmers.
  • Look under the curtains and other window treatments.
  • Examine the structural condition of the home. Note any repairs that may be needed. Look for cracks and water damage.


Refer to your Wish List and Bring a Camera

Indicate each house and compare it with your wish list. This will enable you to compare the properties based on your desired criteria. Consider rating each property from 1-10 with 10 being the best. Discard everything below a 7, this will help narrow down the best properties.


Bring a Measuring Tape

Once a good candidate for a home is located, measure the main rooms. This allows you to better get an idea of whether the rooms will be adequate for your furnishings and needs. Sometimes the way a home is decorated can be deceiving, leaving you with more or less room than you had expected. If you have any large pieces of furniture, make sure the new rooms will have enough space for them.


Become Familiar with the Neighborhood

Another step to take once you have found a good potential home is to visit the neighborhood:

  • Visit at various times of the day, including rush hour.
  • See how safe the neighborhood feels after dark.
  • Find out how friendly the neighbors are.
  • If you know someone that lives in the area, talk to them to get their impression of the neighborhood.
  • Ask your REALTOR® about his or her impressions.


Conduct Some Research

Conduct a thorough exploration and gather all the facts you can about the area. Your REALTOR® can assist you tremendously in this task--he or she could be familiar with the neighborhoods, cities, and upcoming changes. Make sure to note any seasonal peculiarities, and any upcoming changes in the area. It could be that a major development is in the works, bringing more business and congestion to the neighboring land. Being aware of such developments will help you in your decision tremendously.


Trust Your Instincts

After all these tasks have been completed, let your heart and gut direct you in the final decision. The house that makes you feel at home is most likely the right one.



Tips on Writing the Offer


Writing the Offer

When it comes time to write an offer on a house you love, your goal is simple: to have the seller approve your offer for the lowest price he or she will accept. Depending on where you are and the real estate market circumstances, your area might be described as a "buyer's market," where the buyer has more control, or a "seller's market," where sellers have more control. No matter which applies to your area, the following guidelines will help you in writing the offer.


Know the Market

Your REALTOR® is critical in this aspect. He or she can perform a search of all properties that have sold in the neighborhood over the past year. These figures allow you to compare similarly sized homes to see what price they have sold for. Is the asking price much higher or lower than the average? This helps find out what a fair-market value offer will be. Most sellers won't be insulted by a low offer, but in a seller's market, a low offer will probably not even be considered. Use your real estate professional's knowledge of the market to help you prepare the right offer for your particular circumstances.


Minimize Your Contingencies

Contingencies are conditions that must be met before you will move forward with purchasing the house. Typical contingencies include:

  • waiting for your current property to sell.
  • requesting that certain repairs be made at the seller's expense.
  • requesting loan closing costs to be paid at the seller's expense.

The fewer contingencies your offer has, the more attractive, or "airtight," it appears to the seller. many sellers may accept a lower offer with fewer contingencies over a higher offer with several contingencies.


Have a "Plan B" in Mind

A good number of home offers are not denied or accepted, but counter-offered. There's a very good chance that the seller will request you to make changes in your offer. These changes may be in the area of price or terms, in an effort to make the offer more acceptable to them. Being aware of this beforehand will allow you to plan ahead, able to know where you can afford to be flexible. Could you accommodate a quick closing? Could you increase the offer? You should consider your situation to be prepared to respond to a counter-offer with terms you have already considered.